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Talking about quality: four questions on certifications

07/20/2017 - 08:45 AM

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To discuss the topic of quality certifications, and to understand how they work and what they represent, we interviewed Alena Trifirò, Head of the ISO 50001 Energy Management System at TIM

Certifications are generally considered to be synonymous with quality, but is that actually the case? Why?
For the companies or organisations, either public or private, that have obtained any of the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certifications, they represent a “stamp of quality”.
They constitute a group of standards and guidelines that define the “qualitative” processes of an organisation's internal management system.
These processes can be quality related (like ISO 9001, the “queen of certifications”) or energy efficiency related (like ISO 50001).
A certified company is effectively saying to its customer 'I work well' because I have achieved specific objectives, I employ efficient, effective and streamlined production processes, resulting in financial savings and increased company profitability, improved domestic and international market competitiveness, and an enhanced corporate image.
The ISO standards provide a method for better structuring the actions that are, in any case, undertaken by the company, they also establish criteria for periodically verifying and improving the effectiveness of those actions.
In general terms, the ISO standards define working methods and technical specifications which are voluntarily adopted and internationally recognised, to encourage the use of a common language and a standard that is recognised throughout most of the world.

Interview with Alena Trifirò, Head of the ISO 50001 Energy Management System at TIM

alena-trifiro

How do certifications work

1 - plan the actions for reducing energy or environmental impact

2 - put them into practice

3 - check if they work

4 - act

How does the ISO 50001 certification mechanism work and what does it consist of?
The certification mechanism is based on the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle, which in this case means: Plan the actions for reducing energy or environmental impact – put them into practice - check if they work - act. All of which is conducted through the creation of a management system.  To maintain control of their processes and activities, companies and organisations usually apply a set of rules and procedures that form the Management System. There are a variety of management systems:  the quality management system (9001), the environmental management system (14001) and the energy management system (50001).
Using these systems enables companies to systematically improve their performance by setting themselves continuous improvement objectives. The process must be evidence based, meaning it must be possible to demonstrate, to third parties, that the company performs its activities in a way that satisfies the requirements of the standard.
Can you explain the work that goes into achieving a certification for a big company like TIM? Did you set up a working group for the purpose of obtaining ISO 50001?
Our company is a very complex organisation involving many stakeholders, therefore establishing responsibilities and processes that might have an impact on the energy efficiency of a single site, which is subject to certification, is a particularly complicated undertaking. In the case of ISO 50001, the biggest difficulty we have faced is due to the fact that we have many sites that vary significantly in their nature: exchanges, data centres, base transceiver stations, offices...
Good teamwork is therefore absolutely essential, the key to which is the common and shared final objective of ensuring the most intelligent and efficient use of energy resources at the site to be certified. It requires a constant exchange of information, collaboration and cooperation as well as those people involved to possess the necessary competences. The ISO 50001 standard assists in this regard as it requires the formation of an Energy Team which must be adequately trained for the purpose of supporting the company in applying the standard.
One of the positive aspects of this has been the growth and development of those involved, to such an extent that they are becoming an active and proactive part of the efficiency processes. The certification mechanism therefore becomes a real and genuine “modus operandi” that can be extended to all organisational levels with benefits for the entire company.

Good teamwork is therefore absolutely essential, the key to which is the common and shared final objective of ensuring the most intelligent and efficient use of energy resources at the site to be certified.

Alena Trifirò

What we want to do now


INCREASE OUR SCOPE OF CERTIFICATION, adding also an EXCHANGE

What are the next certification steps you intend to take with respect to energy efficiency?
Firstly, it is our intention to increase our scope of certification. I'll explain: one of the first tasks in the certification process is to identify the field of application and the scope. By scope we mean the geographical and organisational limits, as defined by the organisation, whilst the field of application relates to the set of activities, structures and decisions the organisation implements through the energy management system, and the steps we'll take in the future will be aimed at increasing our scope of certification.
For a company/industry with a single facility, the answer is simple. Whereas for TIM - a complex, multi-site, heterogeneous company with a diverse set of site types spread throughout the country - establishing the scope of certification, in other words “which and how many” sites to certify, was the first challenge we had to overcome. Currently, 3 sites have already been certified, each representing one of the various types of site found within TIM: An office building in Parco de’ Medici, Rome, a “mixed” site (offices and exchange) in via Stendhal, Bologna, and a Data Centre in viale Toscana, Rozzano.  We are currently working to add an exchange to the scope of certification.